Road trips aren’t just for able-bodied people. In fact, because buses don’t always make frequent stops and airplanes charge extra for extra legroom or provide inadequate lumbar support, road trips sometimes provide disabled people the best way to travel.
Not only do cars give you the ability to stop whenever you need to, but you’ll be able to take advantage of your vehicle’s ample space and passenger area roominess to stretch out. You also won’t have to deal with turbulence, unadjustable seat belts, inadequate luggage space, distracting interior noises, or rumbling vibrations over every bump in the road.
Instead, you can pick a car or SUV that allows you to enjoy a quiet and smooth all-wheel drive ride. The one thing you will have to think about, however, is where you’ll stop during your road trip. Here are five accessible road trip destinations perfect for people with disabilities and their families/caregivers.
1. National Parks
National Parks might seem un-friendly to disabled people, but because they’re part of the federal, they have ADA-compliant infrastructure, including accessible trails and restrooms.
For example, Yellowstone National Park has a three-mile round trip ADA trail at Morning Glory Hot Springs, and the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park has a paved trail all along its length, as well as shuttle buses which take you anywhere along the route you need to go.
2. Smithsonian Institution’s Museums
Another beneficiary of ADA-compliance infrastructure requirements, the ten Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C., are easy to traverse for those with mobility disabilities, and hearing and sight impairments.
Every museum in D.C. has free manual wheelchair loans, open captioning on exhibit videos, tactile elements, and assistive listening devices. You can also arrange for a sign language interpreter when scheduling a tour in advance. Many of these same accessibility features are extended to other D.C. area attractions, including the National Zoo, and Freer and Sackler art galleries.
3. Morgan’s Wonderland
Morgan’s Wonderland, located in San Antonio, is the world’s first “ultra-accessible theme park,” with over 25 wheelchair-accessible rides and playscapes which are fun for all ages. The park offers live entertainment like puppet shows, dance parties, and plays. Morgan’s Wonderland also has an award-winning accessible splash park, Morgan’s Inspiration, that has three types of waterproof wheelchairs.
4. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta has a number of attractions found throughout the city which are accessible, including:
- World of Coca-Cola, which provides handheld text and audio devices, mobility scooters, braille guide maps, and reflective captioning
- The Georgia Aquarium’s mobility vehicles, 3D animal representations, audio exhibits, wood carvings, visual scripts, and resources for guest with autism
- All 40-acres of the Atlanta Zoo, which also allows service animals and has sensory bags, weighted lap pads, and headphone zones for guests with sensory processing disorders.
- SkyView Atlanta’s Ferris wheel wheelchair-accessible gondolas, which provide passengers a panoramic view of downtown Atlanta
- The sidewalks, restrooms and water fountains of the 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park
5. Sterns Park Beach
Stearns Park Beach, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, has been voted as one of the nation’s most accessible beaches because of its accessible walkways, located at the north and south concession stands and in the middle of the beach. They’re easy for wheelchair and scooter users to use and make it easy to enjoy the water without traversing through mounds of sand. The nearby Ludington State Park campsites also have beach wheelchairs and accessible camping sites for available for use.
As with any adventure, make sure you pack a roadside emergency kit, a GPS device in case you don’t have phone service, a first aid kit, and information about any relevant medication you might need. You should also let people who where you’re going and for how long you’ll be gone.
Any recommended vehicle maintenance should be conducted prior to the trip, including oil changes. Be sure to pack loose-fitting clothes, blankets, pillows, electronics, and other creature comforts to ease any anxiety traveling might give you.